The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
- Paralegals are in one of the fastest growing professions in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for paralegals is expected to grow by 22% through 2016, much faster than the average for all professions. Those who specialize in areas such as bankruptcy, community legal services, elder law, medical malpractice, product liability, and real estate will be especially in demand.
- You can test the legal waters without going to law school. Of course you can choose to become a paralegal as a lifetime career, but for those of you with law school in the back of your mind, working as a paralegal can give you a unique insight into the legal system and help you decide whether law school is really your calling. Plus, if you do decide to go, you’ll already have a lot of the research and writing skills your fellow students will still have to learn.
- You can work in interesting areas of the law, and even specialize. Although you don’t have to choose a specialty area when you become a paralegal, if one particular area of law interests you, you can focus on it and become an even more valuable employee to firms who also specialize in that area. Paralegals work in every legal field you can imagine, so no matter what you’re interest, you’re sure to find a place in the paralegal profession.
- You can choose your working environment. The working environments of paralegals vary greatly with opportunities in large, medium, and small law firms; government agencies; corporate legal departments; real estate agencies; insurance agencies; and more. Some paralegals also work from home as consultants and independent contractors.
- You can be well-compensated. According to the BLS, paralegals had median annual earnings, including bonuses, of $43,040 as of May 2006; the top 10% earned more than $67,540 and those working for the federal government earned $56,080. Not surprisingly, those with higher levels of education and experience are usually at the upper end of the salary scale.
- There is much room for advancement–and higher salaries. Paralegals can gain promotions quite rapidly with training, experience, and especially expertise in a chosen field.
- Boredom is not likely. Working as a paralegal virtually guarantees that you’ll be confronting new issues and situations every day; not only will you be asked to perform various tasks from interviewing witnesses to researching and writing memoranda, you’ll also delve into new legal questions all the time as no two cases are ever the same.
- You’ll be learning every day. As you’ll be doing different tasks and encountering different facts and laws every day, you’ll also be learning as well. If you’re the kind of person who loves the challenge of learning new things, becoming a paralegal could be the right career choice for you.
- You’ll be helping people. Above all, paralegals are in a service profession, helping the clients of supervising attorneys resolve their legal problems, many of which are quite serious.
- You’ll love your job. OK, there’s never any guarantee you’ll *love* your job, but CNN Money Magazine ranks paralegal as the 14th best job in America based on job growth and salary figures, and those two things can definitely make you *like* your job a whole lot more.
Michelle Fabio is an American writer and attorney who left the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania for her family’s ancestral village in Calabria, Italy in 2003. She is the About.com Guide to Law School, a frequent contributor to LegalZoom.com, and also blogs about her life in the toe of the boot at Bleeding Espresso. You can follow her on Twitter: @michellefabio or @lawschoolguide.